Kochi-based painter and sculptor, Bindhi Rajagopal is the promoter of the Bindhi Art Gallery. Known for works such as ‘Metro’ (selected for Kochi Biennale), ‘I am Wild’ and ‘I Want to Fly Like a Bird’ (New York Biennale), Rajagopal is a State Award winner and author of several books on art and design. Her installation ‘The Vision of Da Vinci’ was selected for the Florence Biennale in October 2020. Rajagopal has been a faculty member at Kochi’s Asian School of Architecture for eight years. Her major works include ‘Shadows Speak for You’, an installation that has themes ‘galaxy’ and ‘global warming’; ‘Concrete Jungle’; and a painting titled ‘Transformation Buddha’. Bindhi Rajagopal speaks to IAR on her art and career.
When and how did you start your career as a painter?
I used to draw and paint from a very tender age. It was only when I got into a Fine Arts college that I learnt more about it and chose this as my career.
Painting can be repetitive work. How do you ensure uniqueness?
You first start copying nature during your initial stages, then get bored with it and start adding your own creativity. ‘Unique’ happens when you start realizing that you are not copying other works. I use cotton waste that gives a solid plastic look to my paintings which stand out.
What do you enjoy the most about being a painter?
I have a peaceful mind.
Who influenced you the most in this field?
All the works of famous painters that were the characteristics of a certain movement — such as The Renaissance, Picasso’s Cubism, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Monalisa and The Last Supper — have influenced me. However, I try to contemporize art, instead of drawing from the past.
Your paintings at Durbar Art Gallery, Kochi portray man-nature relationships. Tell us about them.
The 2018 Kerala floods are the influence behind the paintings. The cataclysmic event had moved me deeply. I saw garbage floating in the water; it was so unhygienic. These were dumped by us only! It is high time we realized that our actions will have dire consequences.
My first installation ‘Shadows Speak for You’ depicting ‘galaxy’ is also based on a similar theme. It is a kind of pop-up art. ‘I am Wild’ depicts global warming, which is also the result of man’s actions. It was bought by the Cochin Shipyard.
What genres do you like to paint on?
I usually paint on nature. I try to depict social issues in a creative way. (Pointing at her painting ‘Transformation of Buddha’) this work depicts how the world is changing. On the one side, you can see the Taj Mahal and on the other, metro pillars. It blends the past and the present in a single frame. I also paint on female forms, cement structures, buildings, etc.
How do you define ‘painting’?
Painting is a visual art. It goes into a person’s mind easier than reading a book or understanding a dance performance.
What is the most challenging part of being a painter?
There are many aspects. Firstly, it takes a lot of time to get recognition. You are not regarded as an artist until your works are acclaimed, however talented a painter you are. Then, it cannot be your source of income. For a woman, managing time between your family and household work is a big challenge. When you become an acclaimed artist, you have to be very careful about your work, because you become accountable and answerable to people. Not only your freedom goes as a painter, but you also have to be cautious of the message you are giving out through your work.
What message would you like to give to those who want to be a successful artist like Bindhi Rajagopal?
Only hard work can guarantee success. There are no shortcuts.
Shriya S Nair, an intern with IAR, is based in Palakkad, Kerala.